16 years on, court asks DJB, MCD to pay man for his goods

Lamenting the 16-year-long legal battle of a man with government for payment of goods supplied by him, a Delhi court directed two civic bodies to cough up his dues and imposed cost on officials for red-tapism.

Additional District Judge Ajay Goel directed the Delhi Jal Board and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to pay Rs 2.88 lakh due to Abhay Jain, sole arbitrator of Jainco Industries, for bamboos and manhole covers supplied by him to MCD in 1996.

While passing the order, the court rued the red-tapism in the country, saying, "This is an unfortunate litigation showing red-tapism of this country where the person who had entered into a contract with the government authority and had fulfilled his obligation is still fighting with the government for the amount due to him."

It also criticised the improper advice given by the government counsel without any ground in its favour.

The case dates back to 1996, when an advertisement was issued on behalf of MCD inviting applications for supply of bamboos and manhole covers. Jain got the award and supplied the goods against which two separate bills of Rs 89,700 and Rs 84,000 were raised.

However, inspite of repeated demands and legal notice, no payment was made after which a suit was filed in April 1999.

In January 2011, a senior civil judge directed DJB, which had in 1998 taken over from MCD the work of water supply and sewarage system, to pay Jain Rs 2.88 lakh with an annual interest of 24 per cent from the date of filing of the suit.

The Delhi government through its chief secretary and Chief Executive Officer, DJB, moved an appeal against the order saying MCD is liable to pay the amount.

While hearing the appeal, the court noted that in 1998, DJB had taken over the assets and liability of MCD regarding water, sewarage and others but at the time of cause of action, MCD was liable to pay and it is sufficient to conclude that the liability of MCD and DJB is joint and several.

The ADJ also criticised the government counsel who, it came to know, had way back in 2001, during the pendency of the court proceedings, advised the DJB not to make the payment.

"To make the matter worse, it has come on record that on March 2001, DJB was ready to prepare and to issue cheque even during the proceedings of the suit but it has been stated by a witness that payment was not made as advised by counsel which reflects the attitude of the government counsel.

"It is the duty of the concerned official and the counsel who are drawing their salary or remuneration from government exchequer filled by honest income tax payer to give a sound advice but this file shows that everyone had wanted his share starting from Babus, officers and advocates who were bent upon eating up the coffers of the government.

"It is miserable that when all the facts are crystal clear still this type of instructions are given and payments are not released because palms are not greased," the court said while noting that even senior officials shielded corrupt officials by remaining silent on the firm's pleas for its dues.

The court also imposed an exemplary cost of Rs 25,000 on DJB and MCD, recoverable from erring officials, responsible for releasing the payment at the relevant time with a direction to the DJB chairman to fix the onus and file a compliance report before it in a month.

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